Apple and BBC Co-Producing Comedy Series Starring Imelda Staunton From Harry Potter

Apple is teaming up with the BBC to co-produce an eight-part comedy-drama series with a working title of "Alabama," according to a report from British comedy website Chortle highlighted by Engadget.

Imelda Staunton

Written by former stand-up Andy Wolton, the show will reportedly star Imelda Staunton, who is best known for her performance in the British comedy television series "Up the Garden Path" and for playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies "Order of the Phoenix" and part one of "Deathly Hallows."

The series is reportedly in production and is slated to air worldwide next year on Apple's upcoming streaming video service, Apple TV+. Apple and BBC declined to comment on the series, and plot details have yet to be revealed.


Apple TV+ will feature dozens of original TV shows and movies with stars such as Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey. The service is set to launch in over 100 countries in the fall within the Apple TV app on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and Mac.

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Upcoming Apple TV+ Sci-Fi Drama ‘See’ Reported to Cost $15 Million Per Episode

Apple has several original TV shows in the works for its upcoming Apple TV+ streaming service, and a new report by The Wall Street Journal looks at the big budgets involved in these productions as competition hots up among rival streaming services eager to win over audiences in a market dominated by the likes of Netflix and HBO.


According to the report, Amazon and Netflix have increased budgets for original content in the last few years. Netflix originally spent $4.5 million per episode on "House of Cards," but now many newcomers are having to spend between $8 million and $15 million per episode on original content to compete with established services.

For example, Disney's Star Wars spinoff "The Mandalorian" costs nearly $15 million per episode, according to people who spoke to WSJ. As for Apple, it is said to be spending nearly $15 million per episode to produce sci-fi drama "See," which stars Jason Momoa of "Game of Thrones" and Aquaman fame.
In the case of Apple's "See," the cost has neared $15 million for each roughly 60-minute episode, according to a person familiar with the matter. That is more than the cost of a typical independent feature film.

"See," set centuries in the future after a virus has wiped out much of Earth's population and left survivors blind, appears to be taking cues from the "Game of Thrones" playbook of cinematic world-building. Footage shown at Apple’s programming event featured Mr. Momoa ready-set for battle alongside dozens of actors in sweeping vistas filmed in the fields and forests of British Columbia.
These kinds of figures per episode mean shows can easily exceed $150 million per season – or as much as a typical big-budget movie. One driving factor, according to the report, is that high-profile TV shows are offered up next to theatrical films available to stream on the same service, so "original programming can't risk looking like B-material next to the movies."

Apple is working on dozens of original TV shows and movies with high-profile directors, producers, and actors. The company was reported to have a budget of about $1 billion for its original content and TV shows in 2017.

It's unclear if Apple's budget has risen since that time, but as the WSJ report concludes, a certain power comes with paying big money for A-list actors, since it signals to other top actors and directors that Apple is committed to writing big checks for its top shows.

For example, Apple has signed a deal for two seasons of morning talk show drama "The Morning Show," starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. According to a report in January 2018, the two key stars are set to earn $1.25 million per episode.

Apple TV+, Apple's new streaming television service, is coming this fall. It will be available on all devices where the TV app is available, which includes iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV, along with the Mac. There's no TV app for Mac right now, but Apple plans to introduce one later this year.

Apple has not yet announced pricing for the service, but it is ad free and shows will be available to watch on demand. For more information on Apple TV+, make sure to check out our Apple TV+ guide.


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Apple’s Oscar-Winning Ambitions to be Spearheaded By Six Original Movies a Year, With a Budget up to $30 Million per Film

Apple plans to produce six small-budget movies a year with an eye toward stories that could win Academy Awards, according to The New York Post.


The Post's sources claim Apple wants to spend between $5-$30 million on each movie, and that it has already approached "elevated" directors and other film talent about bankrolling projects with Oscar-winning potential.
Apple is looking to spend $5 million to $30 million per project, sources said, adding that the company is being driven by Netflix’s recent spate of Oscar nominations and win for Best Foreign Film with "Roma" — legitimizing Netflix head Reed Hastings' standing in Hollywood.

"They are taking meetings and hiring," one agency source said of Apple, adding that the meetings are being generated by the company's original feature films unit, headed by Matt Dentler, formerly of iTunes Movies.
According to the report, Apple's search for six small-budget movies is not related to its multiyear agreement to make films with A23, the studio that produced the Oscar-winning "Moonlight."

Apple is working on dozens of original TV shows and movies with high-profile directors, producers, and actors, with all of that content set to be available through a new Apple TV+ app that's going to be released this fall. Check out our dedicated roundup to learn everything that we know so far about Apple's new streaming TV service.


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Dinosaur Documentary Series ‘Prehistoric Planet’ Coming to Apple TV+ From Producer Jon Favreau

Apple has greenlit a new project from producer/director Jon Favreau for Apple TV+, called "Prehistoric Planet." The series is said to provide a look at the last days of the dinosaurs using CGI to recreate the events (via Variety).

Image by John Salangsang via Shutterstock/Variety

Favreau is known for directing films like "Iron Man," the live-action version of "The Jungle Book" and the upcoming reboot of "The Lion King." He will partner with "Planet Earth II" producer Mike Gunton on Apple's new series, which will be produced by BBC Studios' Natural History Unit.

Apple announced Apple TV+ in March during an event filled with various celebrities, including Oprah, Jason Momoa, and Steven Spielberg. The company's streaming service is set to launch in the fall of 2019 and it will be housed in the existing TV app.

Besides documentaries and natural history series like "Prehistoric Planet," Apple TV+ will include numerous scripted dramatic and comedic shows. These include "The Morning Show," "See," "Truth Be Told," "Dickinson," an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" book series, and more. You can see every show coming to Apple TV+ right here.


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Apple Inks Deal for ‘Lisey’s Story’ TV Show Written by Stephen King and Starring Julianne Moore

Apple has given a straight to series order for eight episodes of "Lisey's Story," a TV show based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Julianne Moore is set to star in the series, while Stephen King will write all eight episodes in addition to executive producing. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, King does not often write for TV shows, making "Lisey's Story" notable.

Image credit: Getty Images via The Hollywood Reporter

In the past, King has called "Lisey's Story" one of his favorite books, and one that he'd love to see turned into a television series.

The novel, which is a psychological horror with romance elements, is split between Lisey's life in the present time and her dead husband's life (a famous novelist) as she remembers it. Lisey begans to remember things about her husband that she had suppressed while being terrorized in the present by a former fan of her husband's.

Along with King and Moore, the series also boasts J.J. Abrams and Ben Stephenson of Bad Robot Productions as executive producers. This is the third series Abrams is working on for Apple, as he is also developing "Little Voice" with Sara Bareilles and "My Glory Was I Had Such Friends" with Jennifer Garner.

Julianne Moore has recently starred in movies that include "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "Bel Canto," "Gloria Bell," and "Suburbicon," but she has not been in a television series since her stint on "As the World Turns" in the 80s, with the exception of a few appearances on "30 Rock."

Apple currently has more than two dozen television shows in the works for its upcoming Apple TV+ service, which is set to debut this fall. We have a running list of all of the TV shows and movies that Apple is working on available in our original content guide.


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WSJ on Apple’s Video Service: Starz, Showtime, and HBO to Cost $9.99 Per Month, Roku May Gain Apple TV App

The Wall Street Journal has outlined its expectations for Apple's media event tomorrow at Steve Jobs Theater, where the company is expected to introduce subscription-based services for movies and TV shows, magazines and newspapers, and possibly games. The keynote begins Monday at 10 a.m. Pacific Time.


As we've heard previously, the report claims Apple plans to unveil the first footage from some of its new original TV shows at the event. Hollywood stars such as actress Reese Witherspoon and director J.J. Abrams have been invited to attend.

The report claims Apple plans to charge a fee for its original content, despite some sources previously saying it would be free to Apple device owners.

Apple's revamped TV app will make it easier to subscribe to networks such as Starz, Showtime and HBO, with which Apple has been "negotiating to offer their shows to users for $9.99 a month each." It's unclear if that means each network will cost $9.99 per month or if each user will pay $9.99 per month total.

Apple is said to be negotiating to bring its new TV app to multiple platforms, including Roku and smart TVs. This could refer to an expansion of the new iTunes movies and TV shows app coming to Samsung's latest smart TVs to other leading TV brands such as Sony and LG and to cheaper brands such as TCL and Sharp via Roku.

Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio already announced that their latest smart TVs are gaining AirPlay 2 support, enabling users to stream video, audio, photos, and other content directly from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to the big screen. Apple and Roku are also in advanced discussions about AirPlay 2 support.

Apple is also expected to unveil a revamped News app with an optional premium tier that provides access to more than 200 magazines, including Bon Appétit, People, and Glamour, as well as newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal. The report claims Apple plans to charge $9.99 per month for the service.


The revamped Apple News app is expected to be based on Texture, the magazine subscription service that Apple acquired last year. The report claims The Washington Post and The New York Times are not participating in the service at launch due to disagreements over Apple's alleged 50-50 revenue split.

The report goes on to mention how Apple CEO Tim Cook began holding monthly meetings with Apple's services division around late 2017 as the company aims to grow its revenue from existing subscription offerings such as Apple Music and iCloud storage.

These meetings are said to include "monitoring of apps that benefit and threaten Apple":
For Mr. Cook's monthly services meetings, the company has intensified monitoring of apps that benefit and threaten Apple. The team has created a release radar for the CEO to track apps that are expected to sell well and other metrics for the apps that have challenged Apple's business, including iTunes sales decreases compared with Apple Music subscription growth…
Apple's video and news subscription offerings will certainly help the company expand its service portfolio further, but its exact plans are still clouded in secrecy. In less than 24 hours, we'll have a better understanding.

Apple will provide a livestream of the event.

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Apple Considered Offering Original TV Content Free to Customers Who Bought AppleCare

Apple will debut its rumored television service on Monday, and ahead of the event, The Washington Post has shared some new details on the planning that has gone into Apple's TV service.

When deciding how to distribute its original television content and at what cost, Apple reportedly considered offering free television shows to customers who paid the extra fee for AppleCare for their Mac and iOS devices.


Apple also considered an offering through the Apple TV, and recent rumors have suggested that the content Apple offers will actually be provided through the TV app on iOS devices and the company's set-top box. There's also a possibility that Apple will distribute its content outside of its own platform as well, which is something else the company has mulled.

Apple's plans are still not clear to industry insiders and Hollywood executives, and one source that provided the above info to The Washington Post said that Apple's plans have changed multiple times.
"Whatever they try to sell on Monday, it's not what they started with and they are trying to figure out what kind of engine to put in while the plane is in the air," the executive said.
Film and TV creators who are working with Apple have been left in the dark about the company's plans and do not know if content will be exclusive to Apple users or available to everyone. Creators received "obfuscation and ambiguous responses" when asking about distribution, with some speculating that Apple may not have made up its mind about the finer details of the streaming service.
"Apple is the only company in the world that can drop a couple million dollars in entertainment and get Reese Witherspoon and M. Night Shamalayan on board without any articulation of a plan in terms of marketing or distribution," said one well-connected Hollywood executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to upset Apple.
Recent reports from The Information and Recode have suggested Apple may be planning to offer its own content in the TV app at no cost as a way to lure Apple users to purchase subscriptions for other services, such as Showtime or Starz, within the TV app.

Apple plans to offer a range of different content from various content partners, and has plans to provide bundles of cable channels. These partnerships are said to be the true focus of Apple's TV service, and what will drive up the company's services revenue.

As we've previously heard, Apple has invested millions of dollars in its original television shows. Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, who will star in a morning show drama tentatively called "The Morning Show," are being paid approximately $1.1 million per episode each.

While there have been mixed rumors about Apple's efforts to control the content that's released on its platform, Apple has been willing to create "edgy" shows. One person involved with Apple said Apple executives in Cupertino have stayed out of the creative process.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has, however, "passed notes" to writers on Apple shows through Apple's Hollywood team because Tim Cook, as we've heard before, is aiming to protect Apple's brand and reputation. Apple, for example, shelved "Vital Signs," a show starring Dr. Dre, as was reported earlier last year. Apple could perhaps release this show sometime later, according to sources that spoke to The Washington Post.

Apple will answer at least some of the questions about its streaming service plans on Monday, March 25, which is when its "It's Showtime" event will take place. The event will start at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time, with MacRumors planning to offer live coverage both on MacRumors.com and the MacRumorsLive Twitter account.


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Apple Plans to Sell Bundles of Cable TV Channels Through New Streaming Service

While Apple's new TV streaming service will include its own original content, Apple will also be offering customers access to video streaming subscriptions from third-party services, such as HBO and Showtime.

Part of this effort could potentially include bundles of channels from various content providers, according to new reports from Recode and The Information.


Apple has negotiated rights to bundle streaming services together as part of its deals with media firms, which will allow it to offer packages of channels like HBO, Showtime, and Starz at a price that's lower than what each service would cost on a standalone basis. From Recode:
That wholesale/retail relationship also means Apple, not the streamers, can set the price for the stuff it sells. Apple isn't likely to sell, say, HBO for less than HBO sells itself on rival platforms like Roku. But it definitely plans to sell bundles of pay tv channels at a discount, just like pay TV operators have always done.
It's not entirely clear when Apple plans to offer bundles like these, but providing discounted access to a group of channels would provide Apple with an edge over Amazon. Amazon, as The Information points out, allows customers to sign up for streaming services like Showtime through their Amazon account, but customers must pay full price.

According to Recode, Apple's service isn't going to be a major Netflix or Hulu competitor because the focus is going to be on selling streaming video subscriptions from other companies and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple is working on original content, but its own shows and movies "should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product."

Apple is offering its content partners a revenue share that's similar to Amazon, which keeps 30 to 50 percent of the subscription fee. Apple, however, won't be offering access to as much data as Amazon provides. Still, The Information says publishers find bundling "appealing," and Apple has been touting its huge subscriber base to score deals. Apple's subscription TV content will be made available through its existing TV app which is available on the Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad.

There's no word on which channels Apple will include in bundles, but Apple has signed deals with 15 streaming channels for separate subscriptions, including digital only services like Cheddar and Tastemade and TV channels like Showtime and Starz. Apple has not yet inked a deal with HBO.

Apple is going to introduce its streaming service at its upcoming March 25 event, and the service is expected to launch in the United States later in the spring before expanding to additional countries.

Apple is also unveiling an Apple News subscription service at the event, and rumors have suggested that the TV and news services could be bundled with Apple Music as part of one subscription for Apple users. Apple is also going to announce an Apple credit card provided by Goldman Sachs.

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‘Downton Abbey’ Star Michelle Dockery and ‘IT’ Actor Jaeden Martell Join Apple Series ‘Defending Jacob’

Michelle Dockery, best know for her role as Lady Mary Crawley in PBS's "Downton Abbey," has signed on to star in "Defending Jacob," one of the TV shows Apple has ordered.

"Defending Jacob" is a thriller based on William Landay's bestselling novel of the same title. The book covers the murder of a 14-year-old boy and his friend Jacob, who may have committed the crime.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Described as a character-driven thriller, the show will star Chris Evans and also Jaeden Martell, who starred in the recent remake of Stephen King's "IT."

Evans will be playing Andy Barber, the father of a 14 year old (played by Martell) accused of murder. Dockery will be playing Laurie Barber, Andy's wife and Jacob's mother.

Apple has more than a dozen television shows in the works, and the company is set to give us a first look at its upcoming streaming service on Monday, March 25 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

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Netflix CEO Confirms Netflix Won’t Be Part of Apple’s Upcoming Video Service

Apple is set to unveil its long-rumored TV service next Monday, and ahead of the event, Netflix has confirmed that it won't be participating in Apple's streaming offering.

At a briefing at the company's headquarters in Hollywood, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that while Apple is a "great company," Netflix isn't interested in offering its content on other platforms. "We want to have people watch our shows on our services," he said, according to Recode.


Netflix has never embraced Apple TV features like "Up Next" designed to allow Apple TV users to see all of their watched TV shows at a glance, so it's no surprise to hear that Netflix does not plan to offer its content through Apple's upcoming streaming service.

Set to be launched next week, Apple's TV offering will feature both its original content and add-on content from other cable providers like Showtime and HBO. Apple will allow customers to sign up for subscriptions to third-party services like HBO right within the TV app, which will serve as Apple's TV content hub.

Apple's video hub will be similar to what Amazon offers through its Prime Video app. Amazon provides original TV shows along with options to subscribe to premium content through a Channels feature.

In response to a question about how Netflix will compete with Apple and Amazon going forward, Hastings said the company will do so "with difficulty," though he pointed out that Netflix has already been competing with Amazon for years.

"You do your best job when you have great competitors," he said, before admitting that the increased competition has led to higher prices when sourcing content.

Apple is going to give us a first look at its video service on Monday, March 25, at an event set to be held at its Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. Multiple celebrities that are starring in Apple shows, like Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, and Reese Witherspoon, will be present.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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